Searching Kiki: Lost Lovers across Platforms

Searching Kiki, Lost Lovers Across Platforms

Medium: Multi-media engaged Narrative using Google maps, Unity 3D, and Vuplex VR live web-browser

Sound Collaboration with Reece Anderson

Fall 2020

Searching Kiki is a multi-media engaged narrative using Google maps, Unity 3D, and Vuplex VR live web-browser, following the story of two lovers who become separated between network platforms, their political geographies, and governing jurisdictions. As political subjects to a platform-state, how are user-citizens governed? If the network is the State, then which activities will be encouraged or discouraged through legislative means? Following the protagonist's desperate search for her lost lover, viewers experience the physical and virtual spaces negotiated within network architecture. Computation is experienced not as a purely virtual activity- but as physical events embedded in user geographies. The project questions what bodies experience as the platform connects and separates people, includes and excludes geographic domains, acquires and dissolves other platform-states in the infinite shifting of network tectonics.

The star-crossed lovers tale is reinterpreted within the context of globalized computation, taking place in a world where web platforms rule as sovereign states, users are citizens to a network domain, and web spaces are physical events meshed in real geographies. The project maps network architecture as a political geography and questions how governance is implemented over users within informational structures.

As political subjects to a platform-state, how are user-citizens governed through network architecture? Foucault indicates that architecture itself is a form of governance. The architectural placement of a person in particular environments dictate how they see the world from this place, and how their behaviour is affected according to the perspective that is derived. The project explores how network architecture, in the same way as real architecture, determines a user’s place within its structure. This placement dictates what information/software/interface the narrator has access to, if she can move from a current point to another point in the network or the network of an entirely different platform, and the communication span that is open for her to see and reach other users in the network. These parameters affect her behaviour, interaction, and activities within the platform-state.

But unlike real architecture, a network architecture is non-static by nature. They continually reformulate and shuffle their structure based on internal and external affairs such as user activity, market demand, and relations to other networks. This would mean that radical changes can be made to a user's place and perspective- transforming the world they exist in and their worldview.

If the network is prone to constant change, this makes the new political geography an unstable place to call home. User-citizens may be powerless to volatile change of environments. They can be removed from their current place in the platform and shifted to a new place with every flow and flux of the network. The lovers' relationship is a result of the platform they shared; the very structure of the network allowed them to exist together. A change in its infrastructure inevitably brings doom to their relationship. For the narrator, alternation to the network architecture meant total transformation of her world and the loss of what she knew and loved.

When the narrator decides to search for her lover, she converses with the platform’s supercomputer about leaving the state to visit another. This conversation brings to question what laws may govern a network-based society and what rights to mobility and freedom its user-citizens may or may not have.

The travel taxation reflects on the sort of financial or legislative methods that platforms could enforce on its citizens in order to keep them contained within its domain. According to Benjamin Bratton, network infrastructure is constructed and reconstructed around user activity and interactivity. If the network is the State, then which activities will be encouraged or discouraged through legislative means? The project explores how a platform-state manoeuvres its construction through the policies that it administers- by promoting certain user-activities while inhibiting others.

The narrator eventually sets out to find her lost lover in a foreign platform called Naver. When she searches her lover’s name in the platform browser, she finds herself traversing the physical streets of its domain city, present at the very geographic locations of online activities. Wherever there are user activities that include the search term "Kiki", Naver icons pop up. Upon clicking them, the virtual space of the web open up to show the activity, and define the search term "Kiki" in the context of the current site. The act of surfing through the web becomes travelling through real user geographies.

Viewers experience computation not as purely virtual activities- but as physical events. Moving through the streets of Seoul, they experience how web spaces absorb and occupy physical space. The geographic locations of Naver-Users have become identified, memorized, and virtualized whenever they created or accessed a website in the Naver Domain.

The project identifies the collapsing of physical and virtual space as an essential behaviour of networks and the functionality of the cloud. The narrator performs this behaviour as she roams through the city locating user activities and opening up the associated websites. The Naver icons which pop up all over the streets of Seoul, indicate the virtualization of a user’s geographic position. As they open up to a particular website, they perform the physicalization of virtual space.


  • Bratton, Benjamin. “The Nomos of the Cloud.” The Stack. The MIT Press, 2016. Web.

  • Bratton, Benjamin. “Platform and Stack, Model and Machine.” The Stack. The MIT Press, 2016. Web.

  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Panoptic Mondernity.” An Introduction to Visual Culture. Routledge. 1999, pp 94- 107.